A David Sedaris primer

  Enlarge Photo    
Monday, October 4, 2010

What to read if you haven't read anything yet:

"SantaLand Diaries" from "Barrel Fever" and "Holidays on Ice"

An underemployed Sedaris gets a seasonal job as an elf at Macy's. He names himself "Crumpet."

"Me Talk Pretty One Day," the title essay from "Me Talk Pretty One Day"

Having moved to France and enrolled in language lessons, Sedaris and his classmates explain Christianity using collective pidgin French: "He call his self the Jesus and then he die one day on two morsels of wood."

"Get Your Ya-Ya's Out" from "Naked"

The Sedaris family takes in David's father's recently widowed Greek Orthodox mother, whom Sedaris's mother refers to as "The Gnome."

"The Girl Next Door" from "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim"

Sedaris's attempts to mentor the 9-year-old in the next apartment go awry, particularly after she starts making fun of the "tool people" he creates out of balsa wood.

"Solution to Saturday's Puzzle" from "When You Are Engulfed in Flames"

An airplane seat becomes the focus of a power struggle when Sedaris refuses to swap places so a couple can sit together. "He's in the bulkhead," Sedaris explains. "I hate that seat."

-- Monica Hesse

© 2010 The Washington Post Company